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Ranking the Top Transfers Left in the NCAA Tournament Ahead of the Sweet 16

The recent increase in transfers continues to influence college basketball at its highest levels.

According to the NCAA, 1,649 Division I men’s basketball players opted to make use of the transfer portal in 2022, with 1,123 ending up on scholarship at a different NCAA institution — 26 of whom ended up playing at least 300 minutes for one of the final 16 teams this year.

With that in mind, USBettingReport.com, home to full coverage of all things online sports betting, sought out to determine which of these 26 rotation transfers left in the Sweet 16 most impacted their team’s season.

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To accomplish this, USBettingreport.com used win share data collected from sports-reference.com/cbb and then ranked the players based on that. The final results were clear, albeit slightly surprising.

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Transfers Ranked by Win Shares

Rank Player School 2023-23 Win Shares
1 Souley Boum Xavier 5.3
2 Norchad Omier Miami 5.0
3 Mark Sears Alabama 4.6
T4 Ricky Council Arkansas 4.4
T4 Keyontae Johnson Kansas State 4.4
T4 Sir’Jabari Rice Texas 4.4
7 Tristen Newton Connecticut 4.3
8 Baylor Scheierman Creighton 4.1
9 Makhi Mitchell Arkansas 3.8
10 Malachi Smith Gonzaga 3.3

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‘Transferring Up’ Dominates List

A distinct theme of “transferring up” rules this list. Except for Keyontae Johnson, every player in the top 10 left a mid-major school in the offseason to join their current team.

Souley Boum finished as one of the top 25 scorers in the country on a per game basis at UTEP last year and was twice honored as an All-CUSA performer with the Miners. While his points per game average dipped from 19.8 to 16.5 this year with Xavier, his game easily translated to the power conference level.

Tasked with more on-ball responsibility this season, Boum dished out an extra 1.4 assists per game compared to 2021-22 and still ended up second in the Big East in ppg behind only Connecticut’s Adama Sanogo, leading to a first team all-conference selection.

One of college basketball’s best rebounders also found himself on the move. In his first two seasons at Arkansas State, Norchad Omier collected 12.2 boards a game and closed as a top 5 rebounder nationally both years. That average fell to 10.1 rebounds per game with Miami this season, but his presence has greatly affected a perimeter oriented Hurricanes squad.

Per KenPom, Miami jumped from 329th in offensive rebounding percentage in 2021-22 to 59th in 2022-23 with Omier on the roster, impact that was evident in Sunday’s second round win over Indiana as he grabbed eight of their season high 20 offensive boards.

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Veteran Leadership Helps Alabama

Alabama’s young players have drawn most of the headlines, but Mark Sears has given the Crimson Tide a reliable veteran presence. After putting up 19.6 ppg at Ohio last season, Sears has settled in as the secondary scoring option alongside Brandon Miller in Tuscaloosa.

He has transitioned to a more 3-point heavy shot diet in his new role, raising his 3-point attempt rate from .299 to .602, while also improving his defense. Sears ranks third among all SEC guards in defensive box plus-minus this season at 4.2 as Alabama possesses KenPom’s No. 3 overall defense. And he is not the only veteran transfer achieving success next to youth in the conference.

Ricky Council joined forces with Arkansas’s second-ranked recruiting class to give the Razorbacks one of the most talented rosters in the country, especially in the backcourt. A legitimate NBA Draft prospect, Council demonstrated his athleticism and scoring prowess in spades this year, upping his ppg from his last season at Wichita State by 4.1 and leading Arkansas in the category by 3.5 ppg.

Council has already dropped 39 points so far through two rounds of the NCAA Tournament and has only spent one minute on the bench in those two contests against Illinois and Kansas.

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Johnson Regains Power 5 Star Status

The only power conference to power conference transfer on the main list, Keyontae Johnson, re-emerged as a star this season.

Fully cleared after nearly two years away from the game following his December 2020 on-court collapse, the former Florida Gator teamed with Markquis Nowell to give Kansas State one of the nation’s most dynamic duos. The Wildcats were the only team to have two players on the Wooden Award Late Season Top 20, with Johnson ultimately being named one of the 15 finalists.

Johnson is the only first-year transfer among the Wooden Award finalists and finished fourth in scoring among all first year transfers at the power conference level with 17.5 ppg.

Staying in the Big 12, Texas took advantage of the transfer portal to find maybe the best bench player in the country. A three-time All-WAC selection as a starter at New Mexico State, Sir’Jabari Rice has turned into a super sub with the Longhorns.

Rice ranks fourth on the team in minutes but is their second leading scorer at 12.9 ppg. That is actually one ppg more than he scored with the Aggies last season, despite playing seven minutes per game less on average than he did in 2021-22. The Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year’s shooting percentage jumped over six percentage points this year from 39.1% to 45.7%.

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Arkansas Has Two Players on List

Unlike Rice, Tristen Newton’s overall shooting has regressed from lower levels but he has still found ways to positively impact Connecticut. Newton shot 43.5% at East Carolina last season but is down to 38.0% this season thanks to a more than 11 percentage point decrease in his two-point field goal percentage.

He has responded by becoming a better outside shooter (37.4% from 3 this year vs. 33.3% last year) and providing crucial playmaking. With Newton in the fold, UConn rose from 135th in assists per made field goal last year to ninth this season according to KenPom.

Brought in as the final missing piece to Creighton’s starting lineup, Baylor Scheierman’s story shares similarities with Newton’s. Known as one of the most fearsome shooters in college basketball at South Dakota State, Scheierman’s field goal percentage dipped nine percentage points this season with his 3-point percentage alone falling from 46.9% to 35.5%. However, his reputation and ability off movement still gives him immense gravity which helps open up the rest of Creighton’s offense, plus he is an excellent defensive rebounder and capable secondary ball-handler too.

The Bluejays adjusted offensive efficiency soared from 112th in 2021-22 to 23rd this year at KenPom as all five starters including Scheierman averaged double figure scoring. Only 10 other schools had five qualified double-digit per game scorers this season.

The only team with two transfers in the top 10, Arkansas loaded up in the portal in the offseason. Makhi Mitchell was not the most celebrated of the Razorbacks’ acquisitions, but he has filled a vital role for them, especially after fellow transfer big Trevon Brazile went down with a torn ACL in early December.

Mitchell’s usage is down from 25% in 50 career games with Maryland and Rhode Island to 15.1% in his 35 games with Arkansas, but he has performed exceptionally as a play finisher and rim protector. Mitchell is shooting 67.3% from the field and leads all first-year transfers left in the NCAA Tournament in box-plus minus at 9.5.

Gonzaga’s guards have been enigmatic at times this season, but Malachi Smith has provided a massive lift to the Bulldogs bench. After starring at Chattanooga last year, Smith is playing almost 15 minutes fewer per night. However, his efficiency has thrived.

He took home the WCC Sixth Man of the Year award after averaging 8.5 ppg on 53.6% shooting with an absurd 3-point percentage of 50.6%. His 132.3 offensive rating was one of the top 30 marks in the country this season, with only seven players ranked ahead of him sporting a higher usage rate. This helped Smith lead all Gonzaga guards in win shares despite the fact he played over 200 minutes less than starters Nolan Hickman and Rasir Bolton.

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